Reigning 2-year-old filly champion and Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (Grade I) winner Beholder is joined by unbeaten two-time stakes winner Unlimited
Budget and Hollywood Starlet (GI) winner Pure Fun atop a list of 120 nominations to the 139th running of the $1 million-guaranteed Kentucky Oaks (GI), America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies,
at Churchill Downs on Friday, May 3.
The roster of accomplished nominees and rising stars also includes Grade I stakes winners Dreaming of Julia, Executiveprivilege, So Many Ways and Spring in the Air.
The total of 120 early nominations
to the Kentucky Oaks is an increase of 27.7 percent over 2012, when 94
fillies were made eligible during the early nomination phase. Three
fillies were added to the list during last year’s late nomination period
for a final total of 97.
The early nomination process
for Kentucky Oaks 139 required owners and trainers to submit the names
of their fillies and a $200 fee for each horse to Churchill Downs on or
before Feb. 23. A late nomination period is
underway and continues through Wednesday, April 10. Nomination of a
filly to the Kentucky Oaks during the ongoing late phase requires
payment of a $1,500 fee. After that deadline, a supplemental nomination
process offers a final opportunity for a filly to
become Oaks eligible. Supplemental nominations require payment of a
$30,000 fee at the time of entry to the 2013 Kentucky Oaks on Tuesday,
April 30. Original nominees are preferred if more than 14 fillies are
entered in Kentucky Oaks 139.
The 2013 Oaks nominees are bidding to succeed Brereton C. Jones’ homebred Believe You Can, the winner of the historic 2012 renewal of the 1 1/8-mile race. A crowd of 112,552 – the second-largest in Oaks
history – witnessed the victory by Believe You Can under jockey Rosie Napravnik, who became the first woman to ride an Oaks winner. Believe You Can was trained by Larry Jones, a Hopkinsville, Ky. native who also saddled the Brereton Jones homebred
Proud Spell to win the 2008 Oaks.
The Kentucky Oaks is run each
year on the eve of the Kentucky Derby and, like its companion event,
has been contested each year without interruption since its first
running in 1875. The race is limited to 14 3-year-old
fillies, with up to four fillies designated as “also eligible” to
start. Eligibility to enter the starting gate for the 2013 Oaks will be
determined for the first time by the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” point system.
Kentucky Oaks will be televised live from 5-6 p.m.EDT on the NBC Sports Network
If Spendthrift Farm LLC
Beholder runs in the 2013 Kentucky Oaks, she will attempt to become
just the third filly to earn a 2-year-old filly championship and win
both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies
and Kentucky Oaks. The only fillies to successfully sweep those
achievements were Mike Pegram
, winner of the 1999 Kentucky Oaks, and Eugene Klein
’s Open Mind
who won the Kentucky Oaks a decade earlier. Both
Silverbulletday and Open Mind scored their Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Fillies wins in the previous fall at Churchill Downs, while Beholder’s
Breeders’ Cup triumph came at Santa Anita
The Richard Mandella-trained champion
was runner-up to fellow Kentucky Oaks nominee Renee’s Titan
in her 2013 debut in the Santa Ynez (GII) at Santa Anita. But she
appeared to return to championship
form last weekend in a front-running 3 ¾-length victory in the Las
Virgenes (GI) at a mile over the same track. The victory improved the
career record for the daughter of Henny Hughes to 4-2-0 in seven races
with earnings of $1,395,000.
Repole Stable’s Unlimited Budget, one of nine nominees trained by two-time Oaks winner Todd Pletcher, scored a 1 ¼-length win over fellow Oaks nominee Emollient in the Demoiselle (GII) at Aqueduct
last fall and the daughter of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense
made a successful 2013 debut in a 3 ¾-length victory under Napravnik in
the Rachel Alexandra (GIII) at Fair Grounds. Pure Fun ended 2012 on a
high note for Magdalena Racing and
trainer Ken McPeek with a pair of victories that included the Hollywood Starlet over the synthetic Cushion Track surface at Hollywood Park.
Grade I stakes victories among 2013 Kentucky Oaks nominees were earned by Karl Watson, Pegram and Paul Weitman’s Executiveprivilege, who won the Del Mar Debutante and Santa Anita’s Chandelier for two-time
Kentucky Oaks-winning trainer Bob Baffert; So Many Ways, who took Saratoga’s Spinaway for owner Maggi Moss and trainer Anthony Dutrow; Stonestreet Stables LLC’s Dreaming of Julia, winner of the Frizette for Pletcher; and John
C. Oxley’s Spring in the Air, winner of the Darley Alcibiades over the Polytrack course at Keeneland for trainer Mark Casse.
Other major winners among the nominees include Davona Dale (GII) winner Live Lively; Seaneen Girl, upset winner of the Golden Rod (GII) at Churchill Downs; Delta Princess (GIII) winner Rose to Gold;
Silverbulletday winner Touch Magic; Puerto Rican Grade I winner Fusaichiswonderful; Martha Washington winner Sister Ginger; and Pletcher’s Princess of Sylmar, winner of Aqueduct’s Busher and Busanda.
Her Kentucky Oaks
victory was the highlight of 2012 for Believe You Can, who was one of
three finalists for the Eclipse Award presented to America’s outstanding
3-year-old filly won by Godolphin Racing
, who did not compete in the Oaks. Peachtree Stable
’s Plum Pretty
, the 2011 Kentucky Oaks winner, also was a finalist for the 3-year-old filly Eclipse Award presented that season to Royal Delta,
who also missed
Prior to those
years, four consecutive Kentucky Oaks winners subsequently earned the
Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old filly.
Those winners were Blind Luck
(2010), Rachel Alexandra
(2009), Proud Spell (2008) and Rags to Riches
Alexandra and Rags to Riches defeated males in Triple Crown races
immediately following their Oaks triumphs. The former defeated Kentucky
Derby winner Mine That Bird
in the Preakness
(GI) on her way to Horse of the Year
honors, while Rags to Riches edged Preakness winner and eventual two-time Horse of the Year Curlin
in the Belmont Stakes (GI).
Other Kentucky Oaks winners later named as champion 3-year-old filly include Ashado
(2004), Bird Town
(2003), Farda Amiga
(1999), Open Mind
(1986), Davona Dale
(1979) and Susan’s Girl
(1972). Fillies that failed to win the Oaks but earned championship
honors at the conclusion of their 3-year-old seasons include Wait a While
in 2006 Oaks), Banshee Breeze
in 1998), Go for Wand
in 1990) and Wayward Lass
Pletcher led all trainers with nine Oaks-nominated fillies, one more than Hall of Famer Bill Mott
. Mott, the all-time training leader at Churchill Downs who is looking for his first success in the
Oaks, is represented by a group headed by Emollient and Flashy Gray
, who was the favored individual in Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Oaks Future Wager
. Kiaran McLaughin
nominated seven fillies, while Baffert and John Sadler
had six nominees.
led owners with five nominees, one more than Calumet Farm
. The latter, now owned by Brad Kelley
, has won the Kentucky Oaks a record six times.